- Robert Walser
A term used since the early 1970s to designate a subgenre of hard rock music. From the nineteenth century it had been used to refer to artillery or poisonous compounds. During the 1960s, British hard rock bands and the American guitarist Jimi Hendrix developed a more distorted guitar sound and heavier drums and bass that led to a separation of heavy metal from other blues-based rock. Albums by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple in 1970 codified the new genre, which was marked by distorted guitar ‘power chords’, heavy riffs, wailing vocals and virtuosic solos by guitarists and drummers. During the 1970s performers such as AC/DC, Judas Priest, Kiss and Alice Cooper toured incessantly with elaborate stage shows, building a fan base for an internationally-successful style. Popularity waned at the end of the decade, but the early 1980s brought the ‘new wave’ of British heavy metal to revive the genre just as Edward Van Halen’s astonishing virtuosity was inspiring a new generation of guitarists....